The global pandemic has magnified the deep inequities in our state, disproportionately impacting communities of color and propelling us into an economic recession that has affected millions. The record-breaking wildfire season has served as another stark reminder of the rapid climate change our state is facing, and the calls for racial justice we have seen come after decades of inequities in policies that provide opportunities for some but not all.

“There’s no state better positioned into the future than this state,” said Governor Newsom during a conversation with Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation and member of California Forward’s (CA FWD) Leadership Council where the governor covered COVID-19 response, the economic recession, housing crisis, and climate policies. He added, “We are committed to the future and we are investing in it. We’re investing because we know the future is in decarbonizing our economy.” A recording of the conversation can be found here.

As Leon Panetta, founder and director of The Panetta Institute for Public Policy and founding chair of CA FWD emphasized during his keynote remarks on Dec. 3, “That path towards a resilient economy will take strong leadership. From elected officials, from our business leaders, from labor leaders, from community leaders, from the public, from educators, from all of us.” He added, “The key to recovery is leadership that is not afraid of risk.”

To build a truly equitable state, CA FWD and its wide array of partners understand the need to hold policy and decision makers, as well as each other accountable for progress. On Dec. 3, CA FWD CEO Micah Weinberg and Debbie Chang, president and CEO, Blue Shield of California Foundation unveiled the California Dream Index, a tool that tracks and measures 10 key indicators of economic mobility, security and inclusion. With equity built into the index, the data can be analyzed by race and ethnicity, region, and county as well as income and educational attainment.

“We have the unique opportunity to reimagine California’s economic renewal and redress the racial inequities that will ultimately help more Californians achieve prosperity,” said Micah Weinberg, CEO of California Forward. “The pandemic has caused those who are struggling to get ahead to be hurt more than others, we must do better. The California Dream Index will be the tool that will keep us accountable, helping us measure and track our collective progress in developing solutions that balance equity, the environment and the economy.”

Produced by CA FWD and the California Stewardship Network (CSN), the Summit is built upon the principle that regional approaches to economic problem solving are critical to advancing the state’s triple-bottom-line strategy of balancing equity, environmental sustainability and economic growth to bring opportunity for all.

At a time when the California Dream has become even more elusive for many, the Summit focused on developing actionable plans that will be carried out by its vast network of leaders in 2021 to develop a more resilient, equitable and sustainable state. This year’s Summit focused on: Expanding Home Ownership

  • Planning Regional Inclusive Economies
  • Empowering Resilient and Productive Landscapes
  • Investing in Small Businesses Owned by People of Color
  • Advancing Manufacturing
  • Strengthening Education Cradle to Career
  • Providing Meaningful Career Pathways
  • Ensuring Broadband for All
  • Increasing Community Investment

Additionally, the Summit featured a session with the “Next Generation of Leaders” from CA FWD’s Young Leaders Advisory Council. The session focused on the need for young adults to get involved in discussions to ensure their views and voices are represented in policies that will impact their lives. 

The Summit followed its long-standing tradition and presented two annual awards. The California Steward Leader Award was presented to Isabella Casillas Guzman, Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate and the Regional Steward Leader Award was presented posthumously to Alma Salazar. Both of these awards recognize individuals for their significant contributions to advancing the state’s triple-bottom-line. The Partnership for Industry and Education (PIE) Award Contest was also presented to honor innovative partnerships between educational institutions and private or public organizations.

In 2021, the Summit will be hosted in Monterey on November 9 and 10. The annual California Economic Summit has been held in Fresno, Los Angeles, Ontario, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa and virtually.

About California Forward
California Forward (CA FWD) leads a statewide movement, bringing people together across communities, regions and interests to improve government and create inclusive, sustainable growth for everyone. A 501(c)(3) organization, CA FWD drives collective action to identify solutions that can be taken to scale to meet the challenges the state is facing. CA FWD serves as the backbone for the California Stewardship Network, an alliance of regional leaders, and is home to the California Economic Summit and the California Dream Index.

CONTACT: Jania Palacios, CA FWD
520.404.7643, [email protected]


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